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China drone maker DJI wins $75m from Accel Partners


DJI, the Chinese company that has emerged as one of the leaders in the burgeoning civilian market for drones, has raised $75 million from Accel Partners, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm.


The deal values DJI, which is based in Shenzen, China, at about $8 billion, according to one person briefed on the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity. It is one of Accel’s largest investments ever.


The soaring valuation for the company reflects DJI’s rapid growth in drones, a market that has captivated the public even as regulators and law enforcement in countries like the United States grapple with the safety and privacy risks of opening the skies to unmanned aircraft with cameras. Hobbyists are free to fly drones like the Phantom from DJI as long as they obey certain rules, while regulators are beginning to relax restrictions on their commercial uses, like aerial photography and inspecting crops.


“The size of our investment really shows how big we think the opportunity can become,” said Sameer Gandhi, a partner at Accel, which is best known for its early investment in Facebook. It also has stakes in other start-ups like Dropbox and Slack.


DJI has emerged as the one of most prominent names in the market. Its Phantom 2 drone, a copter with four rotors, starts at $859, while higher-end models like the Inspire 1 start at $2,900.

DJI已涌现为无人机市场最耀眼的名字之一。它的Phantom 2无人机是有四个水平旋翼的直升机,起价为859美元,而像“悟”Inspire 1这样的高端机型起价为2900美元。

Forbes on Tuesday published a profile of DJI in which it said that DJI was on track to exceed $1 billion in sales this year, compared with about $500 million in revenue last year and $120 million in profit. Another person familiar with DJI’s finances confirmed the accuracy of those figures, asking for anonymity because the company has not publicly released them.


Sequoia Capital, another Silicon Valley investment firm, invested around $30 million in DJI last year.


Other drone makers are angling for a piece of the market, too. Last month, 3DR, a drone maker in Berkeley, Calif., one of whose founders is Chris Anderson, a former editor of Wired magazine, raised $64 million from a group of venture capitalists and corporate investors.


Mr. Gandhi of Accel described the growth of DJI as a watershed moment for a Chinese technology company, because such companies are often thought of as copying innovations from companies in the United States and elsewhere.


“For one of the first times, you’re seeing an international company, a Chinese company, being the innovator and frankly leapfrogging all activity in other parts of the world and truly being the company everyone is chasing from an innovation point of view,” Mr. Gandhi said.



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